But a dubious Congress appears close to taking veto-proof action to approve new economic sanctions on Iran – a step the United States has specifically agreed not to take in the nuclear accord with Iran, and one which officials from countries that are party to the agreement say would likely doom diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Some Iran experts say new sanctions would only bolster the hardliners in Iran who want negotiations to fail. But others say new sanctions are needed to disabuse Tehran of any notion that the interim plan put in motion an unraveling of sanctions that will be hard if not impossible to put back in place.
In a new report Monday, the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says that "growth-hungry companies" from around the world, sensing the advent of a "more permissive sanctions environment," have flocked to Iran just since the interim accord was reached at the end of November.
Foreign participation in Iranian trade fairs in the last quarter of last year – when the interim plan was being negotiated and then approved – jumped by 70 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, the FDD says.
Mark Dubowitz, FDD's executive director, says the foundation's analysis suggests the sanctions relief provided Iran in the interim accord will be worth a lot more than the $7 billion the administration claims.
The sanctions relief has prompted a shift from "despair to hope" on Iran's economy both inside and outside the country, Mr. Dubowitz says. The concessions Iran won concerning its petrochemical and auto industries will have multiplying impact given the importance of those two sectors to Iran's economy.